Description of artwork:
Initially trained as an architect, Oscar Abraham Pabón has developed a research-based practice to think more critically about public space through the visual arts. Pabón creates environments that deal with sculpture in public spaces, such as monuments and commemorative statues, whose historical narratives tend to fall into oblivion.
Here, Pabón lines individual bricks on a wall, much like the Minimalist arrangement of Donald Judd's stacks, and he separates each brick with ceramic figurines of Dr. José Gregorio Hernández (1864–1919), a revered Venezuelan doctor and philanthropist. In Stacks
, Hernández's head and feet appear as if embedded in the brick, creating a sense of concealment. The bricks in this sculpture are mass-produced and are typically used for construction in informal architecture in Venezuela, where the artist lived and worked at the time. Stacks
was originally produced as a series of watercolor sketches—on view here alongside the sculpture—which the artist chose to present and sell in order to finance the further material production of his ideas.
(Source: Catalogue for the exhibition Portadores de sentido
Listen to the artist talk about his work:
My name is Oscar Abraham Pabón and I’ll tell you about El objeto específico “Stacks,”
a work from 2012. At that time I was interested in the relativity that could emerge in the idea of a specific object taken from the minimalist sculptural tradition when it is related to a cultural tradition of a particular country. I realized that the physical characteristic of industrial materials is also joined with very important qualities and materials. It’s an anthropological and social dimension that denotes the material in certain contexts. A stack of the fired clay bricks used in home construction in Venezuela and in many parts of Latin America possesses emotional charges and connotations responding to the expectations of being able to build a house to live in. There is a need, a desire; there is faith in the mix. That’s why I was interested in the bricks being observed in a simple and repeated progression, and that it gives the sensation of levitating, but with the help of an internal structure. That’s why, in a semi-hidden way, you see small statues or figurines that are very common in the popular beliefs of Venezuela, as in the case of Dr. José Gregorio Hernández. I like the idea of a meaningful figure for a cultural tradition founded on myths and beliefs, like the Catholic tradition; it can also share and relate to a discourse from a minimalist aesthetic just as it’s deposited by the discourse of the material. This work unfolds a mythical story, but also a historic and local discourse.